When horrific events like mass shootings and other terrorist attacks happen, I think one should wait before making any public comments–especially any kind of extended commentary. In the immediate wake of these evil acts, emotions run high and discernment tends to run low. Having said that, it’s also a time in which certain people can be incredibly candid about what they really believe. The heart tends to pour out and reveal much. The Orlando shooting was a time to repent, mourn, reflect, and see a glimpse of what the future holds for broader American culture.
Sadly, the reported reactions by professing Christians to this terrorist attack seemed to range from hate-filled fanaticism to really squishy liberalism. I suspect most of the reactions were biblically-balanced, quiet acts of charity which hardly ever make it into the press. Much ink was spilled on the subject along with lots of prayer for the victims’ families. We can only hope that out of this horror came a movement in that part of Florida to share the Gospel and lovingly offer the hard truths about sin as well as our universal guilt.
I didn’t fear the Westboro Cult or any of the other heretical extremists. Their vile rhetoric is always expected and always condemned by orthodox believers. What worried me more was the other side of the same imbalanced coin where some professing Christians believed they had to water down or otherwise deny biblical truths about sexuality in order to properly mourn the deaths of these 49 people. It is indeed a difficult spot for the Christian, to offer compassion and hard truths at the same time. But that’s what we’re called to do.
Let’s be very clear about the entire situation. This was an example of sin colliding with other sin. The Pulse nightclub was not a morally neutral venue. Not only was it a place which actively facilitated sexual immorality, it was also a place which fostered drunkenness and probably drug use to boot. In many ways, this place was no different than lots of other run-of-the-mill nightclubs out there. The homosexuals who congregated there were certainly not engaging in any kind of ethical behavior. That much is certain. Perhaps the saddest part to behold is the reality that all of the 49 victims killed in this attack almost certainly went to their deaths without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let that sink in.
The murderer’s overall identity is still a bit shrouded in mystery. Some argue that he himself was some kind of closeted homosexual. We know for certain that he claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. His motivation appears to be typical of so many “lone wolf” terrorists who act on behalf on extremist organizations. Mass murder was his goal and unfortunately he carried out his plans to great effect. Since he was killed as well, the civil authorities will never have the opportunity to interview him or put him on trial.
General reactions to this terrorist attack were certainly predictable as much as they were sad and pathetic. Opportunistic politicians and pundits were quick to revive the tired debate over gun control. Others used Orlando as a rallying cry for a tougher foreign policy initiative against ISIS. Still others used this act of terrorism as a means to bludgeon Christians, essentially blaming us for the attack because we happened to reject same-sex “marriage” and the rest of the homosexual agenda. Never mind that it was a Muslim who did the shooting. Truth took a backseat to their talking points. It was vile. It was disgusting. It was slanderous. But I knew this rhetoric would ramp up in the days after the attack. They couldn’t resist.
I encourage fellow Christians to weather the beatings and keep doing what we were called to do. Those who hate us will continue to hate us. Remain humble, but be ready to defend the good, true, and beautiful. Act with charity, but hold fast to the Word of God. Moreover, we need to see this horrific event as a sign that we ourselves need to repent as well. Let us examine ourselves for areas of sin in our own individual lives, in our families, and in our local congregations. Remember the warning from Christ against self-righteousness in Luke 10:13-16. May we hear the voice of our Lord!
When the HIV/AIDS epidemic first hit America, the church made the huge mistake of not ministering to those suffering from the disease because, at the time, the vast majority of those with HIV/AIDS were infected via their sinful sexual behaviors. That was wrong. That was a moment in which Christians should have seized the opportunity to minister to those infected and dying, both physically and spiritually. How many went to their deaths from AIDS not knowing Christ? Let that question hang in our minds.
Normally when I think of Florida, I think of sunny days with plenty of light. Right now, however, there is a lot of darkness which has fallen upon that State. People are jarred, frightened, and confused. That night revealed a glimpse of the utter depravity of certain people who are no longer restrained by God’s common grace. This was a judgment–a judgment upon us all. I pray that the congregations of the saints in the Orlando area can minister well and more effectively spread the Gospel to everyone there. Christians must be the light in an otherwise dark and dreadful environment. We were called to this.